Five Super Bowl-related signs that the apocalypse might indeed be on the horizon:
1) Eli Manning now owns two Super Bowl rings. That’s one more than his big brother and two more than Hall of Famers Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton.
2) Tom Brady, who won his first 10 playoff games (including three Super Bowls), is 6-6 in his last 12 postseason contests, including 0-2 against Manning in the Super Bowl.
3) Brady and Bill Belichick were actually gracious in defeat. No, really, they were. Belichick even embraced Giants coach Tom Coughlin after the game. (In other news, Belichick was diagnosed with dementia today.)
4) I turned in a profitable Super Bowl for the second straight year, thanks to big wins on the Giants for the game, the Giants in the first half and the first-half “under.”
5) With the Super Bowl haul, my bankroll now stands at—wait for it—$7,033. Yep, exactly two years and hundreds of picks into this gig, I’ve made you a whopping $33. Hey, chuckle all you want; that’s $33 more than you would’ve earned investing on Wall Street.
On to this week’s picks, as I hit the hardwood for the first time this season (note that all point spreads are projected) …
$220 (to win $200) on UNLV -8½ vs. San Diego State (Feb. 11): It’s been fun being a San Diego State alum living in Runnin’ Rebel country the last few years. That’s because since the 2008-09 season, the Aztecs are 9-1 against UNLV, winning the last six meetings overall and five of six at the Thomas & Mack Center (and you thought the Giants owned the Patriots!). Unfortunately, all streaks come to an end at some point (well, except for the sham that is Valentine’s Day), and all signs point to the Rebels finally upending their Mountain West Conference nemesis—and in convincing fashion.
For starters, when these teams squared off a month ago in San Diego, UNLV turned in a dreadful performance, and yet it took a buzzer-beater for the Aztecs to escape with a 69-67 victory. Now look at what the Rebels have done this season at the T&M: 13-0 straight up, and 7-3 against the spread in lined action (as opposed to 1-7 ATS on the road). Going back to Dec. 23, UNLV has been merciless on its home floor, crushing California (85-68), Central Arkansas (124-75), TCU (101-78), New Mexico (80-63) and Colorado State (82-63), covering easily in each game.
True, the Aztecs have three solid road victories this season (Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming), but the last time they hit the highway, on Jan. 28, they lost by 17 at Colorado State—the same Colorado State that three days later lost at the T&M by 19.
Because of this rivalry’s recent one-sided history—and because UNLV’s players and fans are well aware of it—the Aztecs are marching into a lion’s den with T-bone steaks around their collective necks. Lastly, Rebels coach Dave Rice strikes me as someone who’s big on the psychological aspect of basketball, so given a chance to make a statement with a blowout win—especially with a third SDSU-UNLV meeting in next month’s conference tournament looming—he’ll do so.
$77 (to win $70) on Virginia +11 at North Carolina (Feb. 11): The surprising Cavaliers have been frisky so far in ACC road games, winning at Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, and suffering tough three-point losses at Duke and Florida State. And while North Carolina entered the week 20-3 overall and 14-0 at home, the Tar Heels haven’t exactly been a moneymaking machine, failing to cover in six of their last nine, including the last three (all as a double-digit chalk). The Cavaliers also have cashed in five of their last six against UNC, including each of their last three visits to Chapel Hill.
$77 (to win $70) on Ohio State -10½ vs. Michigan State (Feb. 11): The Buckeyes haven’t lost at home in nearly two years, winning 38 in a row in Columbus. But that’s not the impressive stat. This is: In 11 lined home games this season, Ohio State is 9-2 ATS, including conference victories over Nebraska (71-40), Indiana (80-63), Penn State (78-54) and Michigan (64-49). Overall, the Buckeyes have covered five straight, seven of eight and nine of 11. Meanwhile, Michigan State is 0-3 ATS in its last three Big Ten road games.
BEST OF THE REST (Feb. 11): Missouri -4 vs. Baylor ($55); Timberwolves -3 vs. Knicks ($44); Nebraska-Penn State “under” ($44); New Mexico -13 vs. Wyoming ($44); Iowa State -9½ vs. Texas A&M ($33). Feb. 12: Bulls -2 at Celtics ($55); Washington-Oregon State “over” ($55); Grizzlies -6½ vs. Jazz ($33); USC +4 vs. Stanford ($33).
LAST WEEK: 4-5 (+$593); Bankroll: $7,033.